Tallinn Photomonth started  on Friday evening  with the opening of the main exhibition  at the Tallinn Art Hall and lucky for us, we got to ask a few questions from the organizers Kadri Laas(left in the photo) and Laura Toots(right in the photo) before  everything  went into action.

When it comes to this year’s programme, it is notable that many of the represented artists don’t necessarily express themselves through photography on a day-to-day basis. Why make these choices?
Ever since it was first held in 2011, Tallinn Photomonth– despite it’s name—has been about taking a look at contemporary art as a whole. Still, we’ve stuck with the name Photomonth since the modern world is overflowing with photos; it’s aware of its’ photogenicity, so it uses these photos as a fundamental way of communication. The 2017 programme includes painting- and photo exhibitions, installations, residencies, book presentations, studio visits and film screenings in both cultural institutions and open space.
How was the Photomonth programme put together? How were the artists and their works chosen? Which themes were developed?
We started working on the programme with the opening exhibition in Tallinn Art Hall. In the summer of 2016, we organized an international curator contest. As a result, we picked Anthea Buys (a South African curator and writer) to be the curator of our group exhibition. What made Buys’ exhibiton project stand out was the fictional approach- the characters are real, historical people, who Buys has written into different fictional situations.
We made a conscious choice of not giving the participants a central topic to work with, giving every artist and curator their respective creative freedom. Regardless, it seems that Photomonth’s opening exhibition „Visuaalkurnatus“ („Image Drain“) has also inspired the rest of the programme, covering many significant breaking points in the past, present and future. Key words like the passing of time, dreaming about the future, emigration and occupation have established a pronounced direction for the entire programme.
The selection process has generally been multifaceted. We’ve included a lot of our old favourites that step away from the exhibition format (f.e the film screenings in Sõprus cinema, artists’ residencies in EKKM and Narva’s art residency), as well as a lot of rooms that exhibitions are not commonly held in. The key issue was the so-called „matchmaking“- finding an appropriate room for an exhibition, attuning a certain artist to a certain room and getting curators to create projects centered around specific places.
This year there have been over 20 exhibitions in addition to the hectic public programme.
Photomonth is divided into categories (exhibitions, fair, events), how does this division work?
There are no divisions in the context of the medium- there are exhibitions, residencies, book presentations and other events taking place. The main programme includes exhibitions in Tallinn Art Hall, Photomuseum, Estonian Contemporary Art Museum, Kanuti Guild Hall, ARS project room, Telliskivi Creative City, Puänt bookstore, Freedom Square and KUMU. Furthermore, Sõprus cinema is showing artists’ short films and people are visiting artists’ studios all over the city.
In addition to the main programme, a gallery programme is being held in parallell with Photomonth. The programme features Estonian artists’ solo exhibitions in the following galleries: Temnikova & Kasela
gallery, Hobusepea gallery, Art Hall gallery, Tallinn City Gallery, Mihhail gallery, Vaal gallery, Draakoni gallery.
This year, Tallinn Photomonth extends to Narva with two exhibitions and a foreign artists’ residency held in Narva Art Gallery and Narva Art Residency.
In September, Estonian Photographic Art Fair will take place for the eight time in Telliskivi Creative City.
What are Photomonth’s goals, does it aim to introduce (Estonian) photography to a wider audience or is it targeted at the people aready acquainted with the art field?
It is important for Tallinn Photomonth to be diverse and intertwined, especially in engaging different audience groups. The lectures, the guide excursions, the conversations with the artists, the movie nights and the book presentations are all aimed at not only art professionals, but the general public and that is also reflected in the topics we’ve chosen for our events. Moreover, the plays held in Tallinn and Narva act as a platform for our educational program, which we offer free in Estonian and Russian. The aim of the educational program is to improve visual reading skill, raise interest towards contemporary art, improve the ability to analyze art phenomenons and offer inspiration for creative activity.
I would also like to bring up Professional Week (held during the last week of September), which includes a programme on the topic of professional perspective open to all those interested.
Photo by Helen Melesk. Interview translated by Emili Maiste.